Got a side hustle? Australia’s sharing economy is growing, and several startups are reaping the rewards

Getty ImagesAustralia’s sharing economy is growing
  • It’s Global Sharing Week – the largest worldwide campaign that celebrates the sharing economy.
  • Australia’s sharing economy is booming with 36% of Australians actively participating in at least one sharing platform.
  • We spoke to four Australian startups that are reaping the rewards of the sharing economy.

It’s Global Sharing Week – the largest worldwide campaign that celebrates the sharing economy – and these Aussie startups are reaping the rewards of this global trend.

The sharing economy is the process of sharing access to goods and services through an online platform – think Airbnb. It differs from the ‘gig economy’, which is centered around part-time employment.

Australia’s sharing economy is booming, with startup accelerator The Sharing Hub outlining that in 2018, 36% of Australians were actively participating in at least one sharing platform.

Further, it found that one in 10 Australians earn around $1,100 per month with the sharing economy and 70% of earners use it to supplement their income on top of their employment. Most respondents use the additional money to help pay bills (32%), put towards a holiday (22%) and pay off their debts (19%).

Mike Rosenbaum, the co-founder of accelerator The Sharing Hub and CEO of self-storage marketplace Spacer, said the major trend in the sharing economy is people looking to supplement their income “especially with the population bracing for an economic downturn”.

“Aussies are really resourceful and with the already high cost of living, they are finding new ways to embrace tech and help supplement their incomes,” Rosenbaum told Business Insider Australia via email.

And the biggest performing sector in the sharing economy? Asset-sharing platforms. “With the likes of Airbnb paving the way and proving so popular globally, we’re seeing the asset-focused platforms rocketing in popularity,” Rosenbaum said. “Consumers quickly realise that the benefit outweighs the risks when lending out your high-value dresses, vehicles, caravans or storage space.”

Business Insider Australia caught up with four Australian startups in The Sharing Hub that capitalise on the sharing economy. They shared their insights on how much their businesses have grown over the past few years.

The Volte is an online marketplace that allows users to lend and borrow designer fashion items. It was designed to create a more sustainable approach to the industry.

The company currently has 100,000 active users a month, an increase from 60,000 in 2018. “We have grown rapidly, in 2018 our sales grew by 400% and we are seeing that trend continue in 2019,” CEO of the Volte Kym Atkins told Business Insider Australia.

“We launched in May 2017 with 400 items. We now have over 18,000 items with lenders all over Australia with a retail value of over $10 million.”

Atkins added that many of The Volte’s lenders have even turned their side hustle into their main source of income.

Mad Paws is a pet sitting, dog training and dog walking network, with pet sitters able to make between $300 and $600 a week. Since it launched in 2014 CEO Alex Soulopoulos said it has consistently doubled the number of its users year on year.

“While many sitters use Mad Paws as a side hustle, there are those who have built full-time businesses. One example is a Brisbane-based mother, who has supported her family solely through pet sitting,” Soulopoulos said. “When people are able to turn their passion for animals into a thriving livelihood, it’s a good day for us.”

Camplify is considered Australia’s largest caravan and RV hiring platform, with users able to earn between $280 and $2100 a week.

CEO Justin Hales said the company began “with three people in one room trying to work out how we could service customers, get the word out there, and build a platform”.

“Now we are over 40 employees, operating in three countries, and we have [vehicle] owners building businesses through our platform that has enabled them to create significant income. The growth has been explosive, and we see no signs of it slowing down,” Hales said.

One quarter of vehicle owners on Camplify have also gone on to register their own business, according to Hales.

Spacer is a marketplace for cheap parking and storage spaces, with an average host earning $2,689 per year. Co-founder Roland Tam said it has more than 200,000 members and continues to see “exponential growth.”

The company has also helped 18% of its hosts start their own business by hiring out their empty space for storage and parking.

“Spacer hosts often tell us that they feel like they are providing a community service for neighbours in their community, whilst also benefiting financially, which they feel is a true win/win,” Tam said.

Global Sharing Week runs from 17-23 June. It might be a good time to start your side hustle and start rolling in the cash.

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